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Though the global data storage market showed a slight year-over-year (YOY) decline, a closer look at the numbers shows that there is much to look forward to. The market for flash, the innovation leader of the storage industry, continued to grow (72 percent YOY in Q4 2015) to $955.4 million. And closer to home, the India storage market saw historical YOY growth and reached $100 million in Q4 2015.
So, the outlook continues to be optimistic as flash spearheads the storage industry’s progress. Based on the predictions that flash prices will continue to fall, industry analysts expect adoption to increase as flash finds new uses in untapped verticals, in addition to gaining traction in the traditional industries that rely heavily on data centres and cloud technology.
A mid-year review of the trends that will have the most significant impact on the storage industry and its stakeholders will illustrate why the industry maintains a confident perspective.
Cloud is here to stay: Cloud technology in its various configurations (private, public, and hybrid) has firmly established itself as the way forward. Adoption of cloud services by businesses, small and large, will continue to increase across industries. Technology providers are focusing on providing nuanced solutions for various verticals, making it easier for organisations to make the move to a cloud-based platform.
For example, a vertical cloud for the financial industry is tailored for the regulations that govern the industry, and makes it easy for companies to handle the compliance related to data and transaction management. Similarly, a health care cloud provides features that make it easy to manage health care-specific regulatory compliance (regarding information privacy and access, for example) as well as storage and retrieval of clinical data like large image files, electronic health records, etc. A common requirement for both these verticals is extremely robust security as well as a sophisticated and easy-to-manage access control system.
To support these varied requirements, cloud providers, in turn, are looking to the storage industry for the configurations (in terms of capacity, form factor, performance and cost) that best suits the needs of each vertical.
Big Data will get bigger: What started as a trickle, now threatens to become an overpowering deluge. Data is being generated, captured and used by individuals and corporations in more and ever innovative ways: To connect, to market, to enhance, to increase productivity, to optimise; to improve health care, customer service, agriculture and much more. Its use has spread rapidly across industries and with the Internet of Things (IoT) providing a platform for intelligent automation, data promises to get even bigger.
India, in particular, will grapple with processing, managing and securing enormous amounts of data as a result of the government’s Digital India programme which aims to deliver improved governance and citizen services (civic, health, education) to all parts of the country using a digital platform. The execution of the various digital initiatives will entail developing robust and secure data stores (cloud-based or on-premise) with high capacity and high performance.
Digital India will test storage capabilities: When a country as large and populous as ours goes digital, the increase in data volume will be unprecedented. Storage capacities will be stretched to their limits, and the storage industry will be pushed to produce innovative solutions that can provide the performance, capacity and reliability critical in such a massive endeavour. Spurred by government spending for the Digital India and Smart Cities programmes, the storage industry expects 2016 to be a crucial year for market growth, as various government bodies invest in storage infrastructure to form the foundation of their digital platforms.
Fast paced innovation will continue in storage: As a whole, the storage industry has been pushing itself to keep pace with the requirements of its IT customers. However, the flash segment of the industry, with its continuous and progressive innovation over the last decade, has emerged as the clear leader when it comes to performance, capacity, space and energy requirements, and cost effectiveness. Flash offers plenty of choice to its customers, and there is always a configuration with the right combination of performance, capacity and cost – whether it is lower cost/performance options for cold storage (for data that must be saved but is seldom accessed) or enterprise-grade solutions for mission critical and/or big data systems.
The year of flash storage: This year will continue to be a great one for the storage industry in general, but more so for flash storage. The opportunities here are myriad and the trends listed earlier in the article have only touched on a small subset of them; the versatile flash has made its presence felt across industries and products.
The fact that smartphones and mobile devices are all flash is well known, but falling flash prices have helped it make inroads into the laptop and desktop market which has been traditionally dominated by HDD. Manufacturers are now looking to incorporate the well-known advantages of flash (faster data transfer rates, lower latency, low noise factor, low energy requirements) into their desktops and laptops without sacrificing on the cost front, and therefore adoption is expected to rise.
Flash has already established itself across major vertical enterprises – cloud and data centre solutions for health care and finance, as well as manufacturing industries that are players in the IoT solutions space.
It is clear the adoption of flash across industries is on the upswing. The flash industry has the ability to provide customised and innovative offerings, thereby making the decision to switch to flash an easy one. All this adds up to immense potential for flash, with no clear or quantifiable limits as the industry approaches its inflection point. The future for flash holds tremendous promise and excitement.
(This article expresses the views of the author and not necessarily that of his employer.)
- By Vivek Tyagi, Director for India business development, SanDisk Commercial sales and Support at Western Digital Corporation